Here’s what we learned, what we heard and what comes next after the Rams completed their preseason with a 17-6 loss Saturday to the Bengals in Cincinnati that gave them a 1-2 record in exhibition play:
The biggest news item came from Rams coach Sean McVay’s in-game interview with the TV broadcast, when he mentioned that Aaron Donald’s actions in Thursday’s brawl with the Bengals was handled “internally” and that the disciplinary details will be kept “in house.”
“I’m sure you guys are wondering about the situation that occurred, like we had talked about, we’ve handled that in house,” McVay said in his post-game news conference. “I do trust that if something like that occurs again in terms if there is a fight or whatever, that those situations that played out won’t be a factor because I have such trust in our players and they understand and Aaron understands that was something that we were fortunate that nobody got injured and for that I’m very grateful.”
After being asked if he disciplined the players involved in the brawl that abruptly ended the second joint practice with the Bengals, McVay said: “We’re gonna keep all that stuff in house … hopefully you respect that. … I’ve talked to Aaron. We dealt with it in house.”
Many players from both sides were involved, but Donald was caught on camera holding two Bengal helmets and swung at least one at opposing players. The league can’t punish players for the ugly brawl because it didn’t occur in a game.
“We put it behind us,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said about speaking with McVay after the brawl. “We went to dinner the next night — that night, actually. We’ve got a great relationship with that coaching staff. It was good to see a lot of those guys.”
The Rams are looking to move on to the Sept. 8 season opener against the Buffalo Bills and it appears Donald will be available for that.
PERKINS, McCUCTHEON SHINE
Quarterback Bryce Perkins and wide receiver Lance McCutcheon shook off slow starts to end their productive preseason on high notes.
Perkins, who played the entire game because of John Wolford’s thumb injury, dazzled in the second half and finished 14 of 19 for 143 yards, along with eight carries for 33 yards and a three-yard rushing touchdown.
McCutcheon, an undrafted rookie, recorded five catches for 76 yards and a 32-yard reception on the Rams’ lone touchdown drive of the game.
“Lance is doing his part to make it easy,” Rams general manager Les Snead said on the TV broadcast. “He’s doing his part. Sean likes receivers, so it’s OK to have as many as possible.”
McVay hinted that both players will likely make the final roster, making it evident that they’ll keep three quarterbacks and eight wide receivers ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to trim from 80 players to 53.
“Both those guys have done a great job,” McVay said. “You would be hard pressed to think that they haven’t done what they could to earn that, and love both those guys.”
McVay, however, didn’t provide hints about Perkins jumping ahead of Wolford as the No. 2 quarterback behind Matthew Stafford. It would be a surprise, but perhaps the team could decide to move on from Wolford to make room at other positions. Wolford sustained a fingernail injury on the thumb of his throwing hand during the first day of joint practices with the Bengals.
“He is a fun guy to watch,” McVay said about Perkins. “But it’s really kind of day-to-day because it’s not anything like a ligament or bone or anything (for Wolford). It’s just working through that threshold, which that could be a tricky thing with your throwing hand. If it was a different situation and circumstance, he probably could have pushed through it. But I thought it was a good opportunity for Bryce to be able to continue to shine and do a great job for our team and he’s fun to watch out there.”
ABOUT HUMMEL, THOMAS
McVay revealed that undrafted rookie inside linebacker Jake Hummel set the Rams’ preseason record with 21 total tackles.
Hummel is on the Rams’ roster bubble, but he at least helped his cause by putting good film out in the preseason in case it doesn’t work out with the Rams. He was also productive on special teams.
“He’s been active throughout all three games,” McVay said of Hummel.
Undrafted rookie outside linebacker Keir Thomas also helped his chances of making the Rams’ roster by delivering three tackles for loss and a sack against the Bengals.
“Keir was awesome,” McVay said. “He’s heavy at contact and he’s got a great demeanor. I like being around him.”
WHAT COMES NEXT
Hummel, Thomas, defensive tackle Jonah Williams, safety Russ Yeast, inside linebacker Jake Gervase, offensive tackle A.J. Arcuri and the rest of the players on the bubble will find out by Tuesday whether they made the cut for the 53-man roster.
“We got a lot of tough decisions down the line,” McVay said.
Second-year outside linebacker Chris Garrett might also be on the roster bubble, but he reminded the team about his potential after displaying speed at the line of scrimmage against the Bengals.
“I thought (Garrett) did a great job,” McVay said. “You felt his presence on a handful of plays.”
Running back Darrell Henderson is expected to be on the field for when the Rams return to practice with their smaller roster of 53. He has been sidelined the past two weeks with a soft-tissue injury, along with running back Cam Akers, who has a similar injury, according to McVay.
“Darrell was able to run full speed today in the workout on the grass,” McVay said. “Cam wasn’t able to do that.”